The productivity of U.S. workers rose more than projected in the third quarter as companies wrung out more output from their employees in order to keep a lid on costs, another Labor Department report today showed. The measure of employee output per hour climbed at a 1.9 percent annual rate, the same as the prior quarter, and labor expenses unexpectedly dropped at a 0.1 percent pace.
A Labor Department official today said last week’s claims data had yet to be influenced by the fallout from Hurricane Sandy. If there was to be any impact it will show up in the next couple of weeks, the spokesman said.
The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure, fell to 367,250 from 368,750.
The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits rose by 4,000 to 3.26 million in the week ended Oct. 20. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of workers receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
Those who’ve used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments increased by about 47,000 to 2.13 million in the week ended Oct. 13.
The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 2.5 percent in the week ended Oct. 20. Twenty-three states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 30 reported a decrease.
Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth -- measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report -- accelerates.
Last month’s projected payroll gain would indicate the labor market has little momentum heading into 2013. Employment climbed by 146,000 a month on average in the third quarter.
Adding to the lot of unemployed Americans, EBay Inc., the world’s largest online marketplace, said Oct. 29 it will cut 325 jobs to improve efficiency. Newell Rubbermaid Inc., the maker of Sharpie pens and Calphalon cookware, said Oct. 26 it plans to cut 10 percent of its jobs in the next two-and-a-half years. The Atlanta-based company had 19,900 employees as of December.
Cuts in public spending are also hurting employment at government contractors, showing what could happen in the event the fiscal cliff materializes. Oshkosh Corp., the Wisconsin- based company that makes commercial trucks and supplies blast- resistant trucks to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, said Oct. 26 it would cut 450 jobs in January due to lower demand from the Defense Department.
Rockwell Collins Inc. said it plans to cut 1,250 employees, or about 6 percent of its workforce, in the next year as the aerospace manufacturer’s defense revenue falls amid curtailed U.S. military spending.
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